10 Rankings That Tell Us Everything We Need To Know About L.A. in 2015

Congrats L.A., you're No. 1! No. 1 in police shooting deaths, chronic homelessness and traffic. But we're the least-sprawling metro area.EXPAND
Congrats L.A., you're No. 1! No. 1 in police shooting deaths, chronic homelessness and traffic. But we're the least-sprawling metro area.

The great Chinese poet and philosopher Lao Tzu once said, "He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” Here at L.A. Weekly, we pride ourselves on being both.

That's why we love lists about Los Angeles so much. We like to know where we stand, how we fit into the vast and often stupefying fabric that is the United States of America. 

Here, then, are 10 lists that helped explain L.A. in 2015. They're in no particular order. But they're numbered. But the numbers don't mean anything. But it's a list. 

10) The least-sprawling metropolitan area

Least sprawling? Gah?

It's true. L.A.'s famous sprawl isn't quite so sprawling, according to an NYU study published earlier this year. In it, the researcher writes: "Although Los Angeles is often popularly associated with sprawl because of its pollution and traffic, its sheer lack of very-low-density development places it atop all U.S. metro areas." The place is so dense, the study found, that there are no non-dense sectors left in which to spread out and take up the greenery, which is a key definition of sprawl. 

L.A. has virtually no areas that are not already deeply dense, leaving zero room for sprawl. Try the beach.
L.A. has virtually no areas that are not already deeply dense, leaving zero room for sprawl. Try the beach.

Or as our own Dennis Romero explains: "Los Angeles County lacks relatively low-population communities even in outlying areas, a cornerstone of sprawl. In other words, L.A. is all killer, no filler."

9) The eighth worst-run city
This one comes from WalletHub, a website that — well, I'm not really sure what they do, aside from bombard reporters with lists. Lists such as the "Best & Worst Cities to Celebrate New Year’s Eve," "States Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft and Fraud," "Fattest States in America" (they're pretty much all in the South), and so on.

This one claims that out of 65 major American cities, L.A. is the eight worst-run. What does that mean? Well, WalletHub tried to quantify each city's return on investment by breaking down three categories — education, police and parks. For education, it looked at test scores divided by the money L.A. spent on education. For police, it looked at crime rate per money spent on the police. And for parks, it looked at total acreage divided by money spent on parks.

L.A. actually comes out looking pretty OK on parks — 12th best — pretty poor on the other two categories, compared with other cities.

So yeah, this is basically a made-up metric, but it feels right, what with our Los Angeles City Council — the highest paid in the country — devoting much of its time to doling out honorary certificates, wearing funny socks and trying to get pets adopted.

Walt Disney Concert Hall had to be championed by private entities who elbowed bumbling L.A. leaders out of the way.EXPAND
Walt Disney Concert Hall had to be championed by private entities who elbowed bumbling L.A. leaders out of the way.
Paul Bica/Flickr

8) The worst traffic
No surprise here. According to the traffic-measuring website TomTom, Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the country, and the 10th-worst traffic in the entire world — worse than any city in China or Western Europe.

No wonder six out of seven of the worst highway bottleneck stretches in the country are right here in L.A. Fortunately, the very worst bottleneck is in Chicago — suck on that, Windy City!

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7) The second-worst roads
Speaking of driving, when it comes to road quality, we're not the worst!

We're No. 2! We're No. 2!

The city with the distinction of having the absolute worst — i.e., bumpiest, cracked, pothole-laden — roads in America is not some aging Northeast rust-belt city. The distinction belongs to that other California city to the north of us, what's it called? Oh, right, San Francisco. They've got a famous bridge. Summers are cold there, so I hear. 

San Francisco eked out the win over Los Angeles by a single percentage point, according to a study by TRIP, a transportation research group.

If only Thumbelina crews like this one (now on break) could swarm Los Angeles.
If only Thumbelina crews like this one (now on break) could swarm Los Angeles.
Hillel Aron

6) The best university – in the world!
Right, then, let's have some good news, shall we?
The U.K.-based Times Higher Education  ranks World Universities by 13 performance indicators, including reputation, teacher-to-student ratio and research income. Coming in at No. 1 — for the fifth year in a row — was not Oxford, nor Harvard, nor Stanford, nor Yale, but the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, better known as Caltech.

We're learning.

The olive grove at leafy, brainy CaltechEXPAND
The olive grove at leafy, brainy Caltech


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